The confluence of two life forces - a move to San Francisco and marrying into an Italian family - got me thinking a lot about tomatoes and tomato sauce, or as my husband's great-aunt calls it: gravy. Prior to meeting these spirited folks, gravy only meant a sauce to go with meat ;-)
Tomato season in the Bay Area is terrific. Tomatoes have flavor! They're amazing! My favorite? Mariquita Farm's Early Girl tomatoes.
Making your own sauc--erh, I mean gravy-- is pretty easy and a nice yearly tradition. A few nifty gadgets make light work of it. I'll share my favorite recipe, but feel free to experiment and make it your own.
Step 1: Find Your Ingredients
If you'd like, you can follow this Instructable for tips and tricks to modernize an old family favorite. Here's the heirloom recipe I use:
1 large yellow onion, sliced very thinly
4 cloves of garlic, sliced very thinly
1 tsp dried chili flakes
1 cup dry red wine
3-4 pounds early girl tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Step 2: Prep Your Produce (with a Foodmill)
I'm a big fan of my Kitchenaid mixer and this attachment really streamlines the gravy-making process. I've done this before where I've crushed the tomatoes by hand over the pot. It's fun. As the pot starts to bubble, splatters can shoot out so I slightly prefer this method. As an added bonus, this attachment separates the thick and thin parts of the tomato. I used this to make thin and thick tomato sauce/gravy and it's better great. Thin works better on pasta, thick is great for pizza. I like it.
Chop your onion, measure your spices, and pour out a cup'o'wine. Or don't measure. That seems to be the more Italian approach ;-)
Oh, and the mixer attachment is awesome. It can make a mess if you do it the fun way! My method is very mess-forward, but not entirely the mixer's fault.
Step 3: Prep Your Produce (without a Foodmill)
Before getting a nice Kitchenaid mixer and the attachment I mentioned in the last step, I prepped the tomatoes by hand each year. Gravy is always better when you make it with others - pictured here are my fellow gravy-makers picking up individual tomatoes and crushing them one at a time into the pot. Both methods involve taking lots of tomatoes and squishing them, so rest assured that they both have the potentially to make a terribly fun mess. It always helps me feel like I've actually done something ;-)
Step 4: Prep the Non-Tomato Parts
Saute onions in olive oil and add the garlic. Stir in the chili flakes and then add the wine. Up the heat until the pot begins to bubble then add the processed tomatoes, either thick, thin, or a mixture.
Step 5: Add the Tomatoes
Add the tomatoes, stir, and let simmer uncovered for at least 15 minutes or until your desired consistency has been reached. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Step 6: Can It! or Eat It :-)
I make a batch for the whole year and usually give many jars away. Process the jars like typical preserves. A little citric acid stirred in to a jar will help it keep longer. If you made a smaller batch or don't have the supplies to can it, try to use up this deliciousness within a few days to a week.
Any favorite sauce or gravy recipes you use? Or favorite things to put sauce on once you've made it?